Mindbender marathon: Lain/Kon/Ōtomo simulwatch

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Serial Experiments Lain
Layer 02: Girls

"Accela, a type of 'smart supplement', uses nanomechanisms to oscillate at a specific frequency within the body, triggering the secretion of a certain hormone. It is said that, when secreted, this hormone affects the time-sense of the human mind, making it seem as if one's awareness is accelerated."

This episode leads us down into the seedy underbelly of Lain's world, and it's amazing how well it carries itself at the beginning, creating the mood and setting up the story with almost no dialogue. (It also seems to want to lead us into X-Files territory, but that's another story for another episode. 😛)

The intrigue shifts into high gear when Lain's not-actually-friends guide her to a grimy cafe/nightclub called Cyberia. (Heer come the cyber funker?)

They claim to have encountered someone who looks like Lain when they were there previously, but this girl apparently had a very different personality — a claim very much backed up by the early scenes that we witness as viewers.

Then Lain assertively confronts the out-of-control Accela user, speaking in a stern, even threatening way that's unfamiliar to us, leading to the man's violent death by suicide, skilfully executed (if you'll forgive the unintentional pun) in a very low-key and soundless manner off-screen, leaving the vast majority of it to the imagination. What the imagination conjures, though, is horrible.

"To be continued..."
 

WMD

Death Scythe
Lain episode 2

It's a very jarring jump going from the crazy hectic colourful but dark club scene at the start back to Lains quiet awkward bright but stark world.

Theres also an interesting metaphor for technology addiction that even more apt today than when Lain was made. A little machine being a drug substitute that you can lose yourself in and have no real sense of time is very much like people endlessly being on their phone, on twitter or reddit or whatever. Searching for slim pickings of dopamine but never really being happy. The violence at the end being like keyboard trolls/incels lashing out, the identity of the victims being irrelevant. It's all about the one being violent.

The OPs mix of song and visuals remind me a lot of Ergo Proxys OP for some reason. Something about the composition of it all makes them very reminiscent of one another to me.

Here are some photos of it on my tv. They're not as good as proper screen shots.

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HWR

CCG’s Reaper
AUKN Staff
Layer 2: Girls

This episode sees more of the grit and grime of the underbelly of this series’ setting. There’s something subtly unsettling about the nightclub setting and the events near the end of the episode are also indicators that Lain, both the series and the person, are gradually sinking deeper into a technologically-fuelled darkness.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Here are some photos of it on my tv.
Wow, that BD image looks really crisp. Those trippy text screens win over the original release too, because the originals are hardsubbed. I also notice that those new subs incorporate italics for emphasis, and I like me italics for emphasis. 😛

(Even though italics are barely visible in this forum's font. 😒)
 

WMD

Death Scythe
Wow, that BD image looks really crisp. Those trippy text screens win over the original release too, because the originals are hardsubbed.
Interesting. In the blu ray menu subtitles can be either on or off but when watching you can toggle to a signs only sub track which was a big relief!
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
In the blu ray menu subtitles can be either on or off but when watching you can toggle to a signs only sub track which was a big relief!
So there's no signs-only option on the menu itself? That's an oversight. 😯

(Reminds me of the subtitle fail on Manga's Millennium Actress DVD: subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing only.)

###

On that note, folks, just a reminder that tomorrow is "a Perfect Blue day". If you're watching AL's original BD of it and intend to watch in Japanese, remember that the audio tracks are mislabelled on the menu screen. So for 2.0 stereo, select 5.1 surround and vice versa.
 

WMD

Death Scythe
So there's no signs-only option on the menu itself? That's an oversight. 😯
Definitely. I had a moment of worry as when watching it at first it was auto set to English but the signs were off and was worried I'd constantly be having to turns subs on and off. At least the signs track is there even if it's a bit of a faff to get to!

Reminds me of the subtitle fail on Manga's Millennium Actress DVD: subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing only.)
Lol
 

WMD

Death Scythe
[sighs]

[door opens]
I feel like I've missed something now. I mean it's nice it exists and more anime should have hard of hearing tracks. But for it to be the only one is pretty funny.

Also as a dub watch whose been told by strangers that I'm an idiot for it, to hear the sub crowd get a stitch up is a little satisfying (i realise that's a bit mean of me).
 

D1tchd1gger

Claymore
Seems nanotechnology is a thing in this universe.
I wonder if Lain has some in her, hence the voices she tells to shut up in the first episode and the switch in personality at the end of this episode? You know as part of the Serial Experiments
Thought I'd put speculation under spoilers as I'm not the only first timer. Obviously don't want confirmation, I just like to write thoughts down to look back on later.

Was it Lain at the start? Or her sister maybe? Didn't have time to go back to look before writing this.
And what was with the scene in the school corridor? Seemed like weirdness for the sake of it, hopefully we get some form of answer.
 

WMD

Death Scythe
And what was with the scene in the school corridor?
I think bits like that are to give us a view into Lains state of mind. She so quiet and passive most of the time but it helps us see underneath she has a lot of emotions going on. In this case fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of loss.

Although I have seen the show before I dont really remember much of it so I'm going to put this theory behind a spoiler just in case:

I can't tell if Lains family actually exist or not. The conversations never really flow and I dont think we've seen anyone but Lain interact with them when the delivery guy is waiting outside the house as no one else is there is why I think this. Are they just some figment of her imagination? Or am I over analysing?
 
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Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Layer 2

A question of no great consequence: is Serial Experiments Lain a cyberpunk show? It's frequently tagged as one on the various anime tracker sites. Personally, I would lean towards 'no', although it does often have the trappings of one, and nowhere more so than in the Cyberia night club, with all the strobe lights and fetish overtones you'd expect from the genre. The club seems to be bizarrely lenient in who it lets in though. Even if we assume they're willing to look the other way in the case of the drug dealing, how did the kids get there? It's also notable that the boy Taro makes a passing reference to 'information control'; whether this be a slang term for the club bouncers or something more sinister is unclear.

This episode is also our first sighting of the 'Men in Black', seen here looming motionless behind a lamppost outside Lain's house. One of the most popular thematic readings of the show is that it deals with mental illness and psychological disorders, however, so as well as apparently posing a literal threat, the way the MiB seem to hide in Lain's peripheral vision presumably sets them out as being like distressing thoughts lurking at the edge of one's mind.

I can't tell if Lains family actually exist or not. The conversations never really flow and I dont think we've seen anyone but Lain interact with them when the delivery guy is waiting outside the house as no one else is there is why I think this. Are they just some figment of her imagination? Or am I over analysing?

This is probably up for debate and I don't think there's any easy answer. From memory though, Lain's sister Mika does appear to have a somewhat normal life and a boyfriend that she goes out with, so it does seem like she has an existence separate from Lain's mind. Maybe? I'm not willing to rule out that she's some kind of projection of another facet of Lain's personality. This show man.

On a lighter note, I've been watching the dub this time around and, while it's generally fine, hearing Alice's English VA describe Cyberia as a 'really great new club that plays hardcore techno for a hip young crowd' did strike me as kind of unintentionally funny. Right on, daddio.
 

D1tchd1gger

Claymore
hearing Alice's English VA describe Cyberia as a 'really great new club that plays hardcore techno for a hip young crowd' did strike me as kind of unintentionally funny.
Made me laugh as well.

cyberpunk
It reminds a bit of the start of The Matrix before Neo finds out the truth, which was Cyberpunk, but a 90s version slicker and less grimy and neon drenched than the 80s stuff. Although this is a little older!
 

WMD

Death Scythe
hearing Alice's English VA describe Cyberia as a 'really great new club that plays hardcore techno for a hip young crowd' did strike me as kind of unintentionally funny. Right on, daddio.
Lol yep. Reminded me of the awkward shaka brah line in Life is Strange.

I think one definition of cyberpunk is that it's an examination of humanity's fears concerning technology and technological advancement. Certainly Bladerunner, GITS, Matrix, Minority Report, I Robot and Alita have themes like that and in that sense Lain does fit. It's less obviously cyberpunk in the general aesthetic but in theme I think it counts.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
is Serial Experiments Lain a cyberpunk show?
Scarily, I was genuinely going to throw that very question into my own episode 2 post but ended up replacing it with the cyber funker quip. 😛

Let's consult Google for a definition of "cyberpunk", shall we? That seems like a lazy good place to start.

Cyberpunk (noun): a genre of science fiction set in a lawless subculture of an oppressive society dominated by computer technology.
— Oxford Languages

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a dystopian futuristic setting that tends to focus on a "combination of low-life and high tech" featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.
— Wikipedia

Whose definition are we going with?
 

WMD

Death Scythe
I also feel that cinema (hollywood) cyberpunk has a narrower definition that literature cyberpunk as the visual aesthetic of cyberpunk in film owes a lot to Bladerunner. Whereas literature and non hollywood media are freer to broaden the style of storytelling but still be cyberpunk.
 

Arbalest

黒い剣士
Moderator
Layer 2 - Girls
Well this brought a darker look to the world of Lain and what it shows. You get that seedy underbelly element from the start of episode 1, but this brings it more to the fore-front and alongside it, more questions than answers.
I am now trying to decide whether or not this is tackling elements of addiction, mental illness(ie split personalities), or a bit of the more supernatural. Lain seeing that student again in the school and some ethereal bodies lurking around made me really wonder what her position is in this world. I've got a couple of ideas i'll probably put at the bottom, but Lain being the centre of all causes seems very plausible now

The man in black from here seemed really strange, but knew Lain. Chisa suddenly has gone quiet, but some other "entity" is calling to her all the time. It feels clear that the man(who i might add, was doing a terrible job of hiding), knows Lain spoke with Chisa and/or witnessed in some capacity what happened to that other girl, and is tailing her for that. But why she is so important i'll need to wait and find out/

Anyways, my weird takes so far:
My first thought when i saw Lain go split personality was that she potentially might be this "god" that has been seen by so many. In essence, it would explain why she is seeing Chisa and Girl A wherever she goes, and the weird bodies that where around her.
The nanomachines: being able to work the much faster and accelerate you, does that relate to "seeing God"? is that why Chisa, the girl and this man have died?Is it also what is making them see Lain for who she really is, even when she doesn't see it? And does that trigger her "god" persona if so?


It's a lot to digest, so i will need to think about it later, but i feel there is quite a few ways to interpret it all.
 

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
I was mostly joking when I brought up the cyberpunk question - it's something that I see debated a lot in certain circles and it rarely seems to go anywhere worthwhile. Personally, my acid test would be 'where is the punk' and I don't really get that vibe from Lain, but I know many people have different takes on what cyberpunk is to them, and I am okay with that.
 

Arbalest

黒い剣士
Moderator
Ì
I was mostly joking when I brought up the cyberpunk question - it's something that I see debated a lot in certain circles and it rarely seems to go anywhere worthwhile. Personally, my acid test would be 'where is the punk' and I don't really get that vibe from Lain, but I know many people have different takes on what cyberpunk is to them, and I am okay with that.
I did knee-jerk think cyberpunk at the start, but as it went on it disappeared quickly, more...just general sci fi mind bendy. I can see why they may suggest it, but it feels more like this was just showing a weird drug-induced stupor. I still need to see how the rest fairs, but it feels just like a balance of supernatural and just plain trippy
 
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